Scottish exam results day 2020: Edinburgh pupils improve their grades overall after Covid-19 forced school closures

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Early indications suggest a small improvement in overall grades across the capital.

The nervous wait for thousands of pupils across Edinburgh is finally over, as the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) announced their latest results this morning.

The capital’s 8,189 students were awarded 41,553 results in more than 80 subjects ranging from Accounting to Urdu.

How did students in Edinburgh do?

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Edinburgh’s schools have made improvements in a range of subjects compared to previous years, and overall grades were above the national average.

79 per cent of Edinburgh students achieved an A-C grade in their National 5s, an increase of 2 per cent from 2019.

That figure rose to 80 per cent for A-C grades in Highers - up 4 percentage points on last year.

More than 90 per cent of students attained A-D grades in both National 5s and Highers.

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Pupils across the country are celebrating their results after an incredible year where exams were cancelled for the first time in Scotland.Pupils across the country are celebrating their results after an incredible year where exams were cancelled for the first time in Scotland.
Pupils across the country are celebrating their results after an incredible year where exams were cancelled for the first time in Scotland.

After SQA moderation, the National 5 pass rate (A-D) across Scotland was 81 per cent, the Higher pass rate was 79 per cent, and the Advanced Higher pass rate was 85 per cent.

The pass rates in Scotland have risen from 78 per cent, 75 per cent and 80 per cent respectively.

The SQA revealed that across Scotland, 128,508 results – 96 per cent of those adjusted – rose or fell by one grade.

How were pupils graded?

The SQA examination board were forced to create a new method of grading Edinburgh’s 8,000 students after Covid-19 prompted the cancellation of exams.

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As pupils were unable to sit their exams this year, grades for National 5s, Highers and Advanced Highers will instead be based on teacher estimates.

Final grades will be built around preliminary exams results and course work that has already been submitted.

Teachers will have to rank pupils, state what grade they think they would get, and place them within a particular band for each grade.

However, somewhat controversially, the previous performance of the school in exams will also be taken into account. Grades provided by teacher judgement may later be moderated if a school’s results differ in “shape and distribution” from previous years.

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SQA chief executive Fiona Robertson explained: “Teachers and lecturers are best placed to have a strong understanding of how their learners have performed and, based on their experience and the evidence available, what a learner would be expected to achieve in each course.

“An estimated grade is not just the result of one prelim or one project, but is an overall judgement based on activity across the year.”

“Our young people should be very proud of themselves”

Welcoming today’s results, Cllr Ian Perry, Edinburgh Council’s Education Convener, said: “This was without doubt an extremely difficult and uncertain time for our young people due to the pandemic and the effect it has had on their learning.

“So it’s really encouraging to see that overall there have been improvements in most areas compared to previous years especially with the increase in passes for National 5s and Highers.

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“Thanks must go to our dedicated teachers and staff who worked extremely hard in pulling together all the estimated grades for the SQA.

“Our young people should be very proud of themselves in what has been an extremely challenging year.”

“Our teaching staff are to be commended”

Councillor Alison Dickie, Education Vice Convener for the City of Edinburgh Council, said: “At the start of 2020 no one could have imagined how the world of learning and teaching would be so dramatically changed.

“Our teaching staff are to be commended for their continuing commitment to delivering high quality learning experiences.

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“Our young people are once again to be congratulated for all their hard work and successes over the past year, and their parents/carers for their support, under the most trying of circumstances.

“Let’s not forget there is no wrong pathway for our young people as everyone’s learner journey is different.

“School is about ensuring all our young people are able to fulfil their potential by attaining the highest level of achievements possible and by receiving the best possible experience.”

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